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Written by Rob Schultz (human).

#2,399: Suburbicon

Rounders - ★★★½☆
Card games are cool. A little crime is cool. Check out these cool guys doing cool things they can’t leave alone because of their powerful addictions.

But really, I liked this. It has a 90s feel and structure to it that’s so comfortable and familiar that it was almost soothing.

American Anarchist - ★½☆☆☆
This was a good idea for a documentary, but if this story had been a submission to, say, a magazine, someone whose business is telling stories, it would have been killed when it turned out they had no story. But when you’re pot-committed, when your business is telling just this one particular story, you’re just going to go ahead and make it anyway. Luckily the filmmakers weren’t so completely starved for content as to decide the movie was actually about themselves, but they clearly ran out of steam before hitting feature-length.

Suburbicon - ★★★☆☆
I was pretty worried about this one because they rented a particular billboard on Wilshire that movies only rent when they think they’ve got a bomb on their hands. And they went with the deceptive trailer to boot. I’m thankful for that though because I had no idea about what was going on at the start of the movie. It was surprising and fun.

I think I liked everything everyone else hated. I was on board with both the Hitchcockian Matt Damon-centered story and the literally tangentially-related story of his neighbors. I would have liked more of that, even.

This movie is going to be lodged deep in the pile of movies that nobody will remember a year from now. Did you know they made an all-star remake of the Magnificent Seven last year?

After Effects Tip: Import and Export

I know this might not be what you come here to read, but I found ways to improve my import AND export process with After Effects today, and I'm as pleased as can be about it.

Import:

Got a folder full of stuff that you need to bring in? And you drag it in, and After Effects thinks those 10 differently-sized jpegs are supposed to be one shot or something?  Hold Alt while dragging into After Effects to import that folder as a folder. Miraculous!

Export:

Finished your work and need to render it out? But you clicked in a hurry and next thing you know your renders are in some other project on some other drive and god knows where? And now you're duplicating the render just to see where it might go?
Output templates to the rescue!
In the render queue, hit your dropdown triangle next to Output To: and choose custom. What you're going to do is set a path to something useful, save it, and set it as your default.

Screenshot 2018-01-18 02.10.22.png

Here's how my 'Today's Renders' preset works:

[projectFolder]/../../50_Renders/[dateMonth][dateDay]/[compName].[fileextension]

In all of my projects, my After Effects project files live in [NAME OF PROJECT]/00_Projects/02_AEX, so we start there by default, go up two levels (".." is the path for the folder one level up in the hierarchy), go into 50_Renders, then create or go into the folder marked, let's say 1026 if it's October 26th, and make a file named after the comp we're rendering. 

Save that and set it to the default output. Now renders go where they go, and you're not drilling through folders ten times a day.

These may sound simple, or boring, but they made my day. Making the fundamental stuff you do constantly even a little bit easier is victory!

 

#2,396: American Made

The Foreigner - ★★½☆☆
From Green Lantern’s Martin Campbell, this tonally confused action political comedy thriller pits old Jackie Chan against Pierce Brosnan and his army of inept goons.

But not, like, 007, Goldeneye Pierce Brosnan. It’s Mrs. Doubtfire’s Pierce Brosnan as the Elmer Fudd to special forces war hero (blah blah blah, it would have been fine to not explain his whole back story) Chan’s Bugs Bunny.

Battle of the Sexes - ★★★☆☆
Most deceptive trailer of the year? It’s more Billie v. Billie than Billie v. Bobby, and I like how casual the movie is with the latter being mostly theater. I think this is my favorite Emma Stone thing.

American Made - ★★★☆☆
Amazon's adaptation of the The Tick is done quite well, and makes its boldest move by casting Tom Cruise as American Maid.... No, that's silly.

This movie is, in fact, the sequel to Top Gun that Tom Cruise has been teasing the press with for 20 years. It was fun to watch, but if you’re in a hurry you can get the complete story from the trailer.

Escape Room Reviews: The A.I.

Company: Exit Game
Room: The AI
Date Played: 9/30/17
Player Count: 2, but would work well with 3 or 4.
Success:  Success!

Premise: You’re visiting the apartment of your missing friend and his pet AI, a murderous, SHODAN-looking thing. 

Immersion: This room looks like someone should be shooting their webseries or Syfy original programming in it. Which is to say, it looks good but a little cheap, with a lot of colorful lighting. 

Highlights: This room has some cool tech interactions that are unlike anything I’ve seen before, including a take on virtual reality that isn’t what it sounds like. Certain things, like inserting the ‘cores,’ has a great sci-fi movie feel. Also, I like interacting with computers in escape rooms, and this game has a lot of opportunities for that.

Lowlights: We got caught up on search. The volume was very low and hearing our departed friend and his AI's taunts and hints was a little tough over the music. And customer service is always kind of a drag at Exit Game. There’s the silly metal detector thing they do, but more than that there's the sense that your game master isn’t paying attention. We called for a hint and the delivery system here was someone coming in after a couple of minutes and trying to offer advice without knowing where we were.

And Finally: I'm surprised that we don't do more rooms themed around being high-tech in some way. Maybe it's hard to pull off, or maybe we're more likely to naturally spot the shortcomings because we interact with touchscreens and computers and stuff a lot more often than Egyptian tombs. In any case, we'd been looking forward to checking this room out. For my money though, The Lab is still the room to beat at Exit Game. Out of 34 games played, I'm ranking this one #23. 

How to book this room yourself: Visit https://www.theexitgame.com/artificial-intelligence-la-escape

(and while you’re there, check out some of those photos. Particularly this one. This is exactly what I’m afraid of whenever I see a room that says it takes 8-12 players.)

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